DNA tests delay start of next big mob trial

June 29, 2011 4:33:31 PM PDT
The so-called ''geriatric trio'' of Chicago mobsters will have to wait a few months for their day in court.

In this Intelligence Report: DNA tests on some evidence in the Outfit racketeering case has stalled the start date for Chicago's next big mob trial.

The federal court trial of Jerry Scalise, Art Rachel and Robert Pullia was to start on July 11, and as avid craps players know, that date -- 7/11 -- is considered good luck and a natural win. Now, though, a delay in some evidence tests ordered by the prosecution means the trial for the Outfit's "geriatric trio" will no longer roll on 7/11.

It has been nearly 15 months since the geriatric troika was arrested in its latest Outfit racket: Armed invasions of several suburban banks and a break-in at the home of a deceased mob boss.

The leader of the 70-somethings is Scalise, a long-time Outfit burglar and repeat ex-con who seemed to have been going straight, working as a consultant on Dillinger and other gangster films shot in Chicago.

But, according to prosecutors, Scalise was plotting new crimes even as he aided the fictional accounts on film.

In May, FBI agents served warrants on Scalise's head, demanding hair samples for DNA tests to compare with hair strands found on masks that were allegedly to be used in the hold-ups.

Pullia also provided hair samples to the government.

Art Rachel, known as "The Genius," was not required to pluck any samples.

In court Wednesday, the government said that DNA testing of hair samples was still under way. With defense attorneys willing to wait for the results of hair tests that they hope will clear their clients, a new trial date of September 19 was set.

Thirty-one years ago, the case that made Scalise and Rachel famous was the daring theft of the 41-carat Marlborough diamond from a London jeweler. They were convicted and did lengthy prison sentences in the UK in a case that had no DNA sampling because the use of DNA testing was still a few years away in criminal cases.

This time around, with DNA center stage, attorneys for the mobsters contend that U.S. prosecutors shouldn't have waited a year to do the hair tests.

The September trial date is tentative and it may be later than that. There was even talk of a possible December date. Judge Harry Leinenweber said the whole thing was "screwing up my schedule."

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